Doha: A newly released book titled Arab Media in a Turbulent World explores the changing media trends in the region. The book is authored by a group of journalists, academics and intellectuals.
It contains perspectives of media experts such as Khalid Al Sayed, Dr Khalid Al Jaber, Dr Abdel Mutaleb Siddiq Mekki, Prof Barrie Gunter, Prof Noha Mellor, Dr Mohamed Arafa, Dr Philip Auter and Dr Khalid Al Haroub.
The authors argue that the spurt of events in many Arab countries following Arab Spring have made Arab media more influential and effective in promoting people’s causes, apart from strengthening youth’s demands for freedom and dignity.
Arab media has proved that it is capable of becoming a voice of the people, and the youth effectively benefited from this, especially since the electronic media and social networking sites contributed to the mobilization and management of the revolutions.
The book reiterates the importance of media in managing people’s lives, in highlighting their sufferings and happiness.
Dr Khalid Al Jaber, the Deputy Editor-in-Chief of Al Sharq, addresses the geographical, economic and political situations of the Arab world in the introductory chapter. It traces the changes that have taken place and the role of media outlets with emphasis on news channels.
In a chapter about the public’s attitude towards media coverage during Arab Spring revolution, Dr Khalid Al Jaber discusses the new role of Arab news channels, the standards of news services, their credibility, the role of foreign media and the role of media run by the Arab Diaspora.
Barrie Gunter, professor of Journalism at the University of Sheffiel, discusses the role of media in enhancing political participation in the Arab world, the development of policies on new media, e-readiness and the Internet in the Arab world, and the social and political upbringing of young people using Internet.
Noha Mellor, professor of Media and Cultural Studies at Kingston University, says that the Gulf countries represent the future of media in the region, where journalists are earning a new reputation and fame.
This can be attributed to the fact that the region is witnessing the emergence of a new generation who are well-educated and fully informed, besides the availability of plenty of opportunities for women to prove themselves as journalists, anchors and reporters, not to mention their role as bloggers.
Growing investment in new media platforms has been another contributing factor, which has given new opportunities for the new generation in GCC states to show their talent.
Dr Mohamed Arafa, an expert on media research and development, discusses the political roots, the economic and social developments of Arab Spring revolutions, and analyses the new media in light of the Arab Spring from a theoretical and empirical perspective, like how the new media provided the revolutions with telecom-technology that helped the revolution to continue, evolve and escalate within a short period.
He also talks about the complicated relationship between the media and the political situations in the Arab world during the second decade of the twenty-first century.
In the chapter on Arab spring or autumn, Dr. Philip Auter speaks about the future of news and media in the Arab and Muslim worlds, and how social networking sites removed social barriers in people’s relationships, and how it ignited desires for democracy and for achieving economic and social progress.
In an analytical study, Dr. Abdel Mutaleb Siddiq Mekki, Managing Editor of Al Sharq, discusses the crisis of absence of professionalism in the revolutionary discourses of the media in the Arab Spring countries, the track record of media under totalitarian regimes in light of the changes that have taken place in post-Arab spring era.
He writes that the momentum created by Al Jazeera satellite channel was not generated through a media strategy vision but rather depended on the strength derived from several factors mentioned in the chapter.
In Chapter VII, Khalid Al Sayed, Editor-in-Chief of The Peninsula, discusses how citizen journalism played a vital role in documentation and providing live news and information about a series of protests and revolutions that hit many countries in the region. He analyses how these revolutions and events were documented through new media and social networking sites.
He examines how ordinary people turned journalists and provided live coverage of every moment of the demonstrations and clashes between government forces and opposition groups. hey were presenting all these supported with pictures, video clips, reactions and comments from the public, by even penetrating places that professional journalists could not access.
Dr. Khalid Al Haroub, Director of Arab Media Programme in the Middle East Islamic Centre, says that the emergence of Al Jazeera Satellite Channel played a vital and fundamental role in more than one way. The first is that Al Jazeera raised the level of media freedom by overcoming the political taboo to an unprecedented degree, including opening the political debates, and paving the way for opposition groups to make their voice heard.
The second has been the Arab identity of Al Jazeera since the day of its launch.
It did not carry the identity of Qatar, but instead represented the entire Arab world in terms of content and news coverage and selection of journalists.
This made Al Jazeera, at a record speed, a part of the media in Arab countries, especially in the first decade of its life.